Netflix fans have suddenly found themselves unable to get the streaming service’s app for iPhones and iPads working with Apple’s AirPlay.
AirPlay is a feature that allows users to play media such as videos and music from iOS devices on Apple TV and AirPlay-enabled TVs and smart speakers. It allowed people watching Netflix on their iPhones and iPads to instantly play the content on their TVs.
However, in an unexplained move, Netflix for iOS dropped support for AirPlay, which it had supported since 2013.
“Airplay is no longer supported for use with Netflix due to technical limitations,” according to a support page on Netflix’s official website, leaving only built-in Chromecast, the Netflix 2nd Screen feature, and external cables as the only ways to connect Netflix for iOS to a TV.
The AirPlay icon is no longer seen on the iOS app. Attempts to activate AirPlay through the Control Center will be met with an error message that says “Cannot play title. Please try again later.”
The “technical limitations” that caused Netflix for iOS to suddenly stop supporting AirPlay remain unclear. People will still be able to watch shows from the streaming service on their TVs through versions of its app for Apple TV, smart TVs, video game consoles, and other platforms. Bad news, though, for the times when AirPlay made things more convenient, such as when a person watching on their iPhone or iPads moves to a room where they can play the content on the TV.
The decision for the iOS app to drop AirPlay support may be part of a broader disagreement between Netflix and Apple, as the latter is preparing to launch a competitor in the streaming service space.
Apple recently unveiled Apple TV Plus, an ad-free, subscription-based streaming service that will launch this fall. Apple also announced a redesigned Apple TV app that will provide a unified experience for watching TV shows, movies, and third-party services across iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, Mac computers, smart TVs, and other streaming devices. The updated app, expected to launch in May, will sell a-la-carte subscriptions to services such as HBO, Showtime, Stars, and others, but not including Netflix.
“We want to make sure our members have a great Netflix experience on any device they use. With AirPlay support rolling out to third-party devices, there isn’t a way for us to distinguish between devices (what is an Apple TV vs. what isn’t) or certify these experiences. Therefore, we have decided to discontinue Netflix AirPlay support to ensure our standard of quality for viewing is being met. Members can continue to access Netflix on the built-in app across Apple TV and other devices,” a spokesperson for the streaming service wrote in a statement.
The spokesperson also clarified that Apple will remain as a “valued partner,” and that the dropped AirPlay support is not due to the competition between the companies’ businesses.